Explore New York’s music scene and learn about its unprecedented 20-year rise from abandoned city spaces to becoming the bedrock of today’s popular music culture.

On October 16, 1975, New York City was on the brink of bankruptcy. Landlords burned down buildings to collect insurance; African American, Latinx and LGBTQ communities fought for the right to claim space and protections; and precarity turned into a looming weather and, thus, something one prepared for rather than avoided. In the midst of these fires, different communities seized upon cheap rent and abandoned spaces to use them as locations for the creation of many different kinds of music. In the years between 1966 and 1986, rap, punk, salsa and disco – to name only four – found homes in New York City neighborhoods.

Moving from this period in New York City that was a foundation for much of today’s popular music, this course will explore these emerging genres’ social and historical contexts. They will also investigate the links between this period and today’s music. How, for example, did the spatial demands of the 1970s come to shape our modern nightclub? Alternatively, how was salsa influenced by African American and Latinx communities living in Washington Heights and the Bronx? What were the conditions that spurred punk in the Bowery?

This course is for music fans who want to think about the ways that recorded music serves as a hub around which many different conversations can and do occur. It is also for those interested in how techniques of playing and listening convey as much information as lyrics. As such, the class welcomes all students—from those who have no background in music to those who are practitioners within the field.

Site Visits:
This is a new course. Site visits will include trips to locales associated with New York music culture, performance spaces and the industry.

Guest Speakers:
Previous speakers on the topic include:

  • Jordan Wolowitz and Tom Russell of Founders Entertainment, creators of Governors Ball
  • Adam Shore, Red Bull Music Academy
  • Steve Rosenthal, The Magic Shop

Cost and Session Information

Day Program: $5,150*
Residential Program: $5,750*

Dates: June 23 - July 5

LOCATION New York City

*Listed program costs do not include course-specific lab and materials fees. Learn more on our website.

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